The Differenece Between Managed and Unmanaged Servers

One of the most frequent questions that I receive from potential clients looking for their first dedicated server is, "What is the difference between a managed and an unmanaged server?" My first thought is always, "If you don't know, you need a managed server," but I always try to be a little more helpful than that and explain the difference to them.

Generally, with an unmanaged server, we setup the hardware, install the OS and a control panel if one is ordered and maintain the network and hardware. Things like installing scripts and software, troubleshooting configuration issues, setting up firewall rules, etc. are all up to the client. Many of our clients have years of experience working with servers and have no problems with this: I hear from them maybe once or twice a year when they put in a ticket for a reboot and that is it. Even for those clients I recommend our monitoring services, but as far as support goes, they don't generally need it.

The clients that come to me for their first dedicated server are often in a different boat. Some are developers that have written a web app they are looking to launch, some are growing e-commerce sites which have surpassed the resources of the shared hosting accounts that they started with, and some are businesses just looking for a stable platform to host their company website. This type of client wants a platform that just works so that they can do their thing, and they are the perfect candidates for our managed services.

With our managed servers, we provide four major services and several other optional services. The main four are:

  • General Managed Services: General Managed Web Hosting Services is designed for organizations that do not have 24-hour IT staffing, and need support for web hosting services, as well as control panel troubleshooting.
IMAP, POP & SMTP E-mail Services
DNS (bind)
HTTPD (Apache, IIS)
Apache Addons and Modules
MySQL Configuration
Java/JSP/Tomcat Configuration
Various Third-party Scripts (contact us for a list)
Control Panel Updates (only cPanel/WHM and PLESK)
  • QuickReaction™ Monitoring Service: QuickReaction™ Monitoring is designed for organizations that need immediate assistance whenever your dedicated website hosting server is down. By selecting QuickReaction™ Monitoring, your managed dedicated server will be added into our monitoring systems; which are run 24 hours a day, and are additionally viewed by our administrators. If your managed server hosting and dedicated website hosting appears to be down, our administrators will troubleshoot, to the best our ability, your managed server, and attempt to bring everything back online to ensure uninterrupted service.
Monitored Service Frequency
Hardware every 2 minutes
HTTP every 1 minute
FTP every 1 minute
DNS every 1 minute
SMTP/POP/IMAP every 2 minutes
MySQL every 1 minute
Ping Test every 1 minute
  • Kernel and OS security updates:  Whether you select a Linux Dedicated Server or a Windows Dedicated Server, our Kernel & OS Updates Managed Service will constantly keep your server up-to-date, which is essential for security. It's important to both the integrity of our network, and particularly the reliability of your managed web hosting server to always have the latest updates and patches applied to the software that you're using.

This service insures that your software is always up-to-date and secure. While we cannot protect against weak passwords or insecure scripts running on the server, it will insure that the operating system is patched to the latest released version of the Kernel which SingleHop considers stable.

By being Open Source Community Sponsor of Kernel.org, Cent OS Foundation and a mirror sponsor for cPanel, we are able to have access to the latest versions of the Linux Kernel, cPanel, and other products quickly -- and we are able to update your dedicated servers software via our internal network, saving time and bandwidth.

  • Event Notification Monitoring Service: Event Notifications are conducted by a custom configuration of Nagios monitoring system, which is an open-source monitoring application used by some of the most critical organizations in the world. This advanced Dedicated Hosting monitoring system is used in our network operations center, and will alert you when services for the dedicated hosting server you specify are unreachable.
Monitored Service Frequency
Hardware every 2 minutes
HTTP every 1 minute
FTP every 1 minute
DNS every 1 minute
SMTP/POP/IMAP every 2 minutes
MySQL every 1 minute
Ping Test every 1 minute

Overall, when compared to an unmanaged server, SingleHop's comprehensive managed server solutions can provide an easy, nearly hands-off approach to your dedicated server. That brings me to my final point: the term "Managed Server" has no real definition, it is defined only by the services offered by each company -- so make sure that all your hosting needs are being fully met by what your webhost provider is offering.